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Mass Shootings: Where Are They Coming From?

by John K. Stoner (October 20, 2017)

You didn’t, and I guess you won’t, read this in the New York Times.  And that, not only because of style, but I suggest, also because of content.

What’s behind America’s mass shootings might not be as inexplicable as we think it is, or wish it were.

What if, spiritually, socially and psychologically it’s coming from about the same place as little league baseball, big number football shirts on little kids, and Black Friday?  That is, from the values of the adult and public world being imbibed and acted out by individuals—maybe many of them, maybe a few.

One more question, and then a number of observations.  

Is it really possible to have a nation as committed—in policy, spending, weapons, personnel, and practice— to overwhelming homicidal force internationally as is the United States of America, and not have individuals who become so enamored, obsessed and driven with the same notions of homicidal force that they act it out domestically?


Of course there is Little League baseball, because there is Big League baseball.  Of course there are little kids wearing big number football T shirts, because there is the NFL.  Of course there is Black Friday, because there is the relentless drumbeat of advertising and people responding—sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy.  All of these things can be seen just by looking. 

Spiritually, groups of people foster collective ideas.  The ideologies developed by social clubs, sports teams, religious groups, public crowds and nations shape and affect individuals profoundly and decisively.  Anyone who has studied the anatomy of crowds, riots or wars knows that individual behavior is shaped by forces much bigger than the conscious choices of individuals themselves—how much shaped and how much bigger will always be matters of further study, amazement and consternation.  But it is spiritual reality. 

Socially, every person is a part, or element, of the collectives, from small to large, in which he or she lives.   Whatever else it  may be, the self or conscious and unconscious being of the individual is the creation of all that the individual is receiving from his or her collective environment.  If that environment, especially its largest and most pervasive environment, is threatening in posture and practice, armed to the teeth with tanks and guns, bombs and nuclear weapons, drones and hundreds of forward bases, (see Oct. 16 blog)  then that murderous environment will take up residence in the soul of individuals, willy nilly.  How could it be otherwise? 

Psychologically, individuals have great, but not infinite, as far as we know, capacity to process, manage and control all of the spiritual and social influences which play upon them.  “Normal” people are able to more or less manage everything and live socially acceptable, if not altogether productive or exemplary, lives.  But everything is too much for some people, and we have a variety of ways and degrees of empathy to describe them as deviant, sick, disabled, etc.  We view them as suffering from stunted development, PTSD, moral injury, etc. Their behavior is problematic, but it is traceable to causes—causes never fully understood, but real nevertheless.  

And so, what do we do if spiritual, social and psychological considerations point toward “national policy of mass shootings internationally” as probable cause of mass shootings domestically? 

Have we found at least a possible cause to consider? 

1 comment:

  1. " ...then that murderous environment will take up residence in the soul of individuals, willy nilly."

    Absent or rejecting the influence of God, spiritual oppression and even possession can take place.

    Look at this latest domestic atrocity which mirrors collective actions against those abroad (or even what occurred in Waco): it is all of a piece from the same cloth. Moreover, the cognitive shock is that a millionaire gambler, landlord and very clearly not a troubled or underclass deviant carried this out, someone wholly immersed in successful materialism that crowded out conscience - the very things that have become the warp and woof of all the society.